Erin Variano ’08, Athletic Trainer, United States Naval Academy
“I’m so happy I ended up choosing Merrimack College. I wasn’t just a number there. It is a tight-knit community and everything in my gut told me it was the right choice.”
It was during her last college visit that Merrimack’s athletic training program won her over. Erin was not only impressed by the hands-on, science-based curriculum, but was surprised to find out that the program allowed student-athletes to major in the discipline.
“Being a student athlete isn’t allowed in many other programs across the country due to time constraints and wanting full commitment to athletic training. Our instructors at Merrimack understood how many athletes are drawn to athletic training and made a point to work with our schedules to ensure that we could balance the work and clinical hours necessary to be successful in the program. As a former lacrosse player at Merrimack, this wouldn’t have been possible without my professors constantly working with me.”
After graduation, Erin accepted a 10-month long internship with the United States Naval Academy as an athletic trainer for the football and wrestling teams. She then went on to graduate school at Utah State University in Logan, Utah and completed a Master of Science in Health and Human Movement. Throughout her career, Erin was able to work with athletic teams at Brown University and Virginia Tech before being offered a full-time position with the United States Naval Academy.
“I knew how rare this chance was, and how much I loved my time at Navy as an intern, so I had to jump on it. I moved back to Annapolis in August of 2015 and I am now in my second year at Navy.”
Erin is one of four athletic trainers for the Navy football team, and also oversees an athletic training intern whose main responsibility is with the wrestling and swim and dive programs.
How did your experience at Merrimack help you as a professional?
Merrimack set a very competitive foundation for me at the start of my athletic training education and expected nothing but the best from all of us in the program. We, in return, felt an obligation to ourselves and to our professors to hold our work, both clinical and in the classroom, to a high standard. It was definitely challenging, but I am so thankful for how everyone at Merrimack pushed us and got us thinking critically. It has no doubt been the driving force behind my career, and I refer to my experiences at Merrimack often when making decisions in my current position.
What is the best advice you could give current Merrimack students?
Take chances and do as much as you can when you are at Merrimack! You will surprise yourself with what happens. As long as you are enthusiastic and passionate about what you do and the experiences you go after, everything will fall into place. It all comes down to the relationships you form and treating people well, no matter what profession you choose. Have fun with it!
What is your Favorite Merrimack memory?
I have endless amounts of amazing memories at Merrimack. It’s really the people. I made some of my best friends at Merrimack and we continue to have great times since college. The coolest thing was that everyone was so close at Merrimack because of the tight-knit community that was established there. I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience.
Why are you Merrimack Proud?
I am so impressed and proud of how the College is constantly evolving with the profession of athletic training. The curriculum has changed over time, as necessary, with an ever-evolving field. I am proud when I have gone back to visit Merrimack and see all the improvements that have been made. There is now a brand new athletic training room, weight room, and classes are now being held in the athletic facility after renovations. It was awesome to see how much was improved during a short period of time. I keep track of how women’s lacrosse and other sports are doing there, and I still talk to some of my professors from the athletic training program. They have been a phenomenal resource and support system all through my time in college, and in every phase after that. Merrimack feels like a home base for me and always will.